Mumbai : The assault case of the KG student of Columba High School, Gamdevi has brought focus on how school teachers resort to corporal punishment to intimidate school children, leaving them scarred for life, mentally and psychologically.
Giving an instance, Dr Shubhangi Parker, psychiatrist and acting dean of KEM Hospital, says “One of my patients was a twelve-year-old girl. She was made to strip her skirt in front of the class and the teacher hit her on her buttocks. He was a male teacher. The girl was reluctant of tell her parents about it and developed school phobia.” The girl lost a year afterwards which affected her personality also. “She could not gather the courage to face her schoolmates and her teachers again. Even after being shifted to other school she was scared going there. She was a very special case and we had to give her ultra care and attention. She took two years to recover and due to the loss of years she is still very introvert,” adds Dr Parker.
Referring to children who are slow learners and dyslexic, Dr Aditi Agarwal, psychiatrist, Sanjivani Hospital says that such children are targeted by teachers for punishment on a regular level.
“One of my patients was a thirteen-year old and dyslexic. After being slapped by her teacher she was made to stand outside for two hours in continuation. Such children also do not have many friends in class. So, she was even teased by her classmates. Afterwards she was in depression for four years. Though she might have completed her schooling now but psychologically the scar will remain in her always,” says Dr Agarwal.
According to psychiatrist, Dr Harish Shetty from Hinduja Hospital, corporal punishment in schools has a profound effect on the child’s personality. It wrecks the child emotionally and infuses a fear complex that might seem like an anxiety disorder later in life. The humiliating experience of corporal punishment in front of classmates makes children feel inferior and might trigger serious inhibitions later in life making kids introverted and result in them being unsuccessful.
“The child may start getting insomnia or nightmares. He or she may even choose to become a loner,” added Dr Agarwal.
According to a principal of BMC school, children and parents are both reluctant in coming forward with complaints against teachers. “ The poor children and their hapless parents swallow the insults and the ill treatment for fear of more trouble and act as if everything is all right. The management of educational institutions also don’t question the teacher for fear of the teacher associations creating a ruckus. In such conditions, the Parent Teacher Associations also cannot come to help the children,” said a principal of a BMC school who refused to be named.
“In schools where there are so many kids, it’s very difficult to spot the slow learners or dyslexic kids. Parents also never accept or specify that their kid is undergoing any abnormality. In such cases, it is the responsibility of the teaching fraternity to understand the plight of such children. Even if the child is bright, corporal punishment can never be supported,” said Deepa Joshi, principal of Sitaram Prakash Primary School.
Anuradha Chavan, president of Parent-Teacher Association United Forum (PTAUF) said that they have filed a government resolution against corporal punishment to Rajesh Tope, Education Minister but so far no action has been taken.
“In our GR we have specified that today also many school are punishing its children. We demanded stricter rules but so far we have received no answer. As a result, children continue to suffer,” said Chavan.